Performing as an actress, as well as developing her production work in collaboration with Steve Scrivens and award-winning Latin American female writer for their upcoming production on the life of Frida Kahlo, Rebecca‘s award-winning career spans across television, film and theatre where she’s been able to work with a vibrant and diverse range of film-makers and directors.
Her rich cultural heritage and early life spent enveloped within the arts, sees her dedication to the craft adapt and evolve continuously, just as life does itself, with a deep desire to tell stories through performance.
Rebecca recently finished her worldwide festival run of her short film SAFE SPACE, a film based around survivors of human trafficking. The film garnered 25 selections and 6 awards – a fusion of the arts and Rebecca’s humanitarian work, the film was able to contribute to raising awareness in putting an end human trafficking.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I am a multicultural actress and artist. My Mother is Philippine/Spanish and my Father is Scottish/ French Canadian. I have 2 older sisters and we all grew up training as dancers/singers/performers in our hometown in Nottingham. My parents split up when I was 1 and my mother declared that she would either lose her mind or focus on the children. So she scooped us up to the nearest dance school ‘Nora Morrison School of Dance,’ where we dedicated the rest of our lives to the Arts. We were brought up my mu mum, her other half ‘Eddie’ and our Filipino nanny, Conching. We also have a half brother David Grant who is one hell of an athlete. We did see our Dad every weekend for fun and adventures. He became a local GP in Bulwell, Nottingham.
I recall the the stories we were told about our family. How our Great Grandmother was Ernestine Bowes Lyon, first cousin to the Queen Mother and grew up in the infamous Glamis Castle. The story of how she eloped with another lover eventually and settled in the South of France and gave birth to our uncle and grandfather. ‘Buntie’ our uncle was an air pilot and died in the Second World War whilst searching for the Bismark. Apparently, it was below freezing that the missile he ejected didn’t eject but instead blew up his plane. My grandfather, Raymond de Longueuil, became a prolific artist. Troubled, with a debilitating stammer produced some of the most glorious paintings I have ever seen. My Philippine grandparents were in Law and lived and fought through the Japanese War. I say fought – My grandmother upon seeing her entire village lined up and about to shot down , started shouting in Japanese. She was the only person who could speak it. Her sense of reason and intelligence saved her village
I was so intrigued and empowered by my past, enjoyed creating in the present and looked forward to the future till I was stuck by a severe asthma attack and was put into a coma aged 16. People think my life was fun and successful as a child performing in numerous musicals and shows. Mostly I was in pain and suffered a lot with trying to breath, but dance/acting kept me fit and above it. I had severe exzema and asthma as a kid and my second home was The Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham. I tried to make up for my ailments by reaching for my paints and brushes and excelling in National Art competitions as well as National Drama and Dance competitions. Sheridan Smith and I used to compete all! haha! But at 16 I was set back and my parents were told that I had a 50/50 chance of survival. I remember every word, every dream and every spiritual experience of that journey in a coma. I came through. And bounced back to GCSEs and work. Thanks to the love and prayers that felt like a magnet pulling me back to earth, from ‘the light’.
My first main job was a dancer in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Bombay Dreams. Then I landed roles in plays, lead roles in Shakespeare. I met my husband Ivan Pierson and landed a role for 2 years in BAFTA winning BBC Holby City. I was grateful to land further TV jobs after that playing parts in Prisoners Wives, Midsomer Murders and Stan Lee’s Lucky Man
Eventually, I decided to have kids, 2 glorious kids – Flint and Rose. I now want to make my own mark, produce my own plays and films and write my own material. I am currently rediscovering Frida Kahlo and producing a play around her life and my life, as well as producing a film with author/director Marie Delanote on Mental Health, a concept very important to me during these times. I am also filming Queens of Mystery playing Natasha Young, for Acorn TV.
On the Art front I have a series of lockdown paintings which I am launching in London in the Spring.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Oh yes, several times…. I find lists from years ago. Some things I am glad to tick off. Some things I am still in the pursuit of! That bugs me.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Plenty…… It is mainly the unsaid, the unknown, the silent prejudices of let’s say being a mum with a young family. But the only thing you can do is ignore it and do more, create more, give more, create jobs and laugh lots!
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Giving birth and having my children to love and cherish. My family. I used to think winning art awards and acting awards were achievements. They really are and still are. But when experiencing the sheer power of giving birth and Motherhood…Boy, I had no idea how truly powerful women are!
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
To be honest, persistence. Also withdrawing from it for a bit. Enjoying the journey just as much as the destination.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I have been teaching dance from the age of 14 and have been putting shows together for children for help raise money for charities in the Philippines. I recently started teaching adults and they absolutely love it. Dance seems to lift people up to higher states. I guess my aim is to teach true expression and coordination of oneself through the beauty of dance.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
We need just one more cause that stands up for equal rights for Working Mothers. I don’t see it in headlines or public announcements. Thinking about it Mums are the stuff that makes the world go round, literally. And yet I do sense a silent discrimination in the area. Of course no one is going to own up to it, and I don’t blame them (the government doesn’t make it easy on businesses or productions) Plenty of actors give up their careers because of this one conundrum. The work that I HAVE gotten from auditions since being a mum has been so supportive in regards to looking after my needs as a mum with a baby. It is not much, after all, we look after ourselves very well and least of all do we need our feelings looking after. Just a space to breastfeed, and a mini nursery and childcare. Luckily, I have my own nanny (who is still Nanny Conching! Sadly she is heading back to the Philippines in December) and that is pretty much it. If there is money being pumped into other equal rights causes then surely a few adjustments and additions into a production budget can be allowed. I am hopeful times are changing for the better and as minds are being opened to equality there will be more inclusive opportunities for all, especially the working mums.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Do it your way. I took too much advice in my younger years. Take your OWN council.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
Theatre: Produce a fun, enlightening, enriching and gripping play on Frida Kahlo, finding out who she really is and inspiring other women to to the same.
Film: produce work that aids to open the eyes and minds of the audience that reminds them that they have a choice in life, they are in the driver’s seat. Currently focusing on human rights as in my latest film Safe Space directed by Ben Hyland.
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